Confident. Excited. Nervous.

Mariah BarrenMariah Barren recently graduated from Hammond High School in Hammond, Indiana on June 7th, 2017. She will attend Central Michigan University in the fall where she plans to study Psychology. She was initially attracted to ACT-SO because it would give her exposure and the opportunity to showcase her talents. The program also allowed her to meet a diverse group of fascinating individuals with different artistic crafts and backgrounds. For the 2017 local Gary ACT-SO Branch competition, Mariah received a gold medal in the Music: Vocal Contemporary category. She sang Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, which was played on the piano.

Due to her accomplishments at the local competition, Mariah has advanced to compete at the national ACT-SO competition this upcoming July in Baltimore, Maryland!

ACT-SO History

This will not be Mariah’s first time competing at the national ACT-SO competition. Last year, in 2016, she attended the national ACT-SO competition where she competed in the Music: Vocal Contemporary category and performed Can’t Help Falling In Love in the style of Hailey Reinhart (originally sung by Elvis Preseley). Although she did not receive a medal, she is grateful for the experience and is excited to compete again this year.

Three Words to Describe Feelings About National Competition

Confident, excited and nervous. Mariah feels both excited and nervous because she knows that there are a lot of other talented students at the national competition who will serve as strong competitors. The ACT-SO program provides a small glimpse of the amazing talent that exists in the youth nationwide. She feels confident because she has a strong support system comprised of people who have uplifted her by believing in her and her work. Many other ACT-SO participants, as well as mentors, have taught Mariah to embrace her talent, be self-assured in her abilities and ready to share her beautiful craft with the rest of the world.

Then vs. Now

Mariah is far more confident about performing at this year’s national competition than she was at last year’s competition: “The first year I participated, I did not know what to expect, and I did not expect the people around me to be as confident as they were. It took me by surprise, and it has caused me to work even harder on becoming more confident in myself before participating this year… I feel even more ready than I was before.”

Nerves & Excitement

Mariah is most nervous about being too focused on her performance at the national competition. She believes that when a performer is too focused, he or she often forgets to have fun, which can strongly affect how the performer appears to the audience. However, she is looking forward to exploring the city of Baltimore with the wonderful people who will be traveling to the national competition with her. Mariah is excited to meet so many more new and different people this year, and perhaps, run into some familiar faces from last year’s national competition.


“Just go for it. [ACT-SO] is a wonderful opportunity to show the world what you are made of, so don’t be scared to show it. Be daring and have fun because the program is designed for you to enjoy yourself and the presence of other people.” – Mariah Barren

We wish you the best of luck, Mariah, in the 2017 national ACT-SO competition!


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